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By Sam Hodges
Through singing and preaching, praying and counseling — as well as sharing hugs and shedding tears — United Methodists in the Denver area responded to Friday’s school shooting at Arapahoe High School.
“I had grown men crying on my shoulder, saying that their sons and daughters were students at Arapahoe,” said the Rev. Ryan Canaday, associate pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch. “We had one family where the wife was a teacher at Columbine (High School) and the husband is a math teacher at Arapahoe, so for them it was a double whammy.”
On Friday, authorities said, 18-year-old Karl Pierson entered Arapahoe High School in the Denver suburb of Centennial, armed with a shotgun, machete and three Molotov cocktails. He was reported to be looking for his debate team coach.
Pierson shot a fellow Arapahoe senior, Claire Davis, in the head before fatally shooting himself. Davis remains in critical condition in a coma, her family said in a statement.
For many in the area, including United Methodists, the tragedy prompted excruciating memories of the nearby Columbine shootings in 1999. The area also felt the shockwaves again on July 20, 2012, when a gunman killed 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, another Denver suburb.